Saturday snippets: 6th September 2014

By | Category: Travel news
MV Discovery

Some people cruise – MV Discovery visited Pembroke this week…

This week, Pembroke had a tourist boost with not one but three cruise ships docking there. A thousand Germans landed from two shops and then, yesterday, the MV Discovery docked carrying 400 passengers. Tourism experts estimate that cruise passengers visiting Pembrokeshire spend an average of £80 each on shore which seems a large amount given that they don’t have to buy meals as these are provided on board. It only goes to show how lucrative cruising has become and how smaller ports like Pembroke are reaping some of the benefit.

The fact that the two ships were made up of English and German passengers reinforces research from the European Travel Commission showing that the Germans and the British, in that order, make up nearly a quarter of all the visitor trips within Europe. Both nationalities really like their holidays and, it seems, little will deter them from taking them. In southern Europe, for example, the same research says that, over the next few years, the majority of visitors to southern Europe are forecast to come from the UK, Germany and France. Doesn’t that just reinforce that Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Turkey will still be our favourite destinations?

...but some prefer to fly...

…but some prefer to fly…

As if to prove we like our holidays, easyJet says that yesterday was the busiest day in its history with their 1451 flights carrying 210,000 passengers. All in just one day! Popular destination for passengers departing the UK for leisure breaks yesterday were favourite sunspots like Malaga and Alicante along with cities like Barcelona. The busiest business destinations are Paris, Amsterdam and Geneva. In all, 6,612,075 people flew with easyJet in August, up 8.4% over last year, which suggests that our need for a holiday be it a fortnight or a short break is still growing.

But last-minute holidaymakers have been warned to be on their guard by BL Claims solicitors over a scam which has left several travellers out of pocket. The advice comes after several users of holiday lettings website Owners Direct have found themselves handing over money for accommodation that did not exist or was not available. The firm says that holidaymakers are often unaware that they have very little protection in law if a listing turns out to be inaccurate or fraudulent. Legitimate holiday rental websites are not generally liable for any financial losses incurred by people who fall victim to a scam – even if a criminal has used the site fraudulently – and they are under no obligation to carry out checks to verify whether what is being offered is available. Be very suspicious, it says, if you are asked for the price of the rental upfront and are asked to send it to a foreign bank account or through a method such as Western Union or a telegraph transfer, as these payment methods are notorious for being used by criminal gangs. Don’t rely on PayPal protection – holidays are not covered by this. If you can, pay by UK credit card because as long as the sum you pay is more than £100, you will have protection under the Consumer Credit Act.

Oktoberfest in Munich

whilst others prefer terra firma – at the Oktoberfest in Munich

Later this month, Oktoberfest begins in Munich attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. You might have even seen the scare stories that emerged this week that bakers in the city might strike for higher pay and that the traditional accompaniment to German beer – the pretzel – will be in short supply as a result. But it isn’t the only place having a beer festival at this time of year. In Chicago, the city celebrates with its own version. The 2014 slogan for the three day Oktoberfest taking place at St Alphonsus at the end of this month is ‘More beer, more brats (wursts) and more bands.’  But the world’s second largest Oktoberfest doesn’t take place in either Germany or the US. It’s in Brazil in the city of Blumeanu where over 600,000 will attend.

Just a week away today in Berkshire is the Henley Show described as ‘the best one-day Agricultural Show in the country.’ Nearly 125 years old the show is one of the last in the season and in a town best known for its regatta – one of the heights of the social season.  But starting today there is also an exhibition about the contribution of the people in the town during WWI which is being held at the River & Rowing Museum. Towns up and down our countries have similarly themed exhibitions and I urge you to visit your local museum as the individual local stories sometimes get dwarfed by the national coverage. The one in Washington, County Durham for example, focuses on the role of the miners although during the first world war, Washington didn’t exist as a town as it is just 50 years old and celebrating its anniversary this year.

Of a similar nature is a new exhibition opening at the London Canal Museum near King’s Cross on the 10th of October. The history books and the television shows don’t reveal the role played by waterways so this really is an exhibition with a difference. Using unseen archive film and photos, first hand testimonies and rare objects, the exhibition charts how the vital part played by canals in contributing to the war effort.  Many hundreds of barges took five million tons of food to the flour mills of Belgium and transported thousands of tons of munitions each day to Ypres. The exhibition also highlights the unexpected – how troops were billeted in empty lock chambers, how barges were used as hospitals not only for wounded troops but also horses, and how canal water was served up to troops to drink on the front line.

Further afield, the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and the 13-state Appalachian Regional Commission have launched a national tourism campaign. A shame it isn’t international as Alabama fulfils many requirements that we Brits have of a tourist destination in the US. It has native American sites, civil war history, a food cuisine different to many places Brits normally visit and decent cheese!. Sixty-four state culinary destinations were selected for the ARC’s Bon Appétit Appalachia, a tourism map guide and it focuses on 283 of the Appalachian region’s most distinctive food destinations.

or maybe light rail...

or maybe light rail…

Over on the other side of the world in Australia, the Gold Coast has installed a light railway system to help travellers get around this tourist destination that isn’t greatly known by Brits but attracts hundreds of thousands of Aussies and people from south east Asia every year. Just over ten miles long, the railway has taken just over two years to build which would put some of our railway engineering work to shame. But will all this public transport see the demise of the famed meter maids who, in my youth, sashayed along the coast in bikinis feeding any parking meter where the ticket had expired so grateful drivers weren’t penalised. That did more for local tourism than any expensive ad campaign!

It is rare that a zoo attracts 100,000 visitors in its first month but the Assiniboine Park Zoo in the Canadian city of Winnipeg has done just that. The 10 acre ‘Journey to Churchill’ exhibit is said to be the greatest northern species zoo exhibit anywhere in the world and teaches about the region and the creatures that call it home. Visitors can come face to face with the zoos four resident polar bears and in the 21 metre ‘Sea Ice Passage’ visitors will feel they are completely immersed in the sea with the majestic creatures. The exhibit also features the domed Aurora Borealis Theatre, with Manitoba’s largest 360-degree film screen. This theatre shows an 8-minute film in which visitors appear to stand in the Arctic landscape. but also about the rich cultures of the First Nations and Inuit people who call the far north home. In the ‘Wapusk Lowlands’ visitors can travel between prairies, boreal forest and tundra and are able to see other native species including arctic fox, muskox, caribou and snowy owls.


…or just a walk in Guernsey

From 6th-21st September, Guernsey is offering 46 guided walks around the island as part of its annual Autumn Walking Weeks in association with Healthspan. The walks range from strolls through the capital, St. Peter Port, to themed historical walks, explorations of the leafy lanes in the heart of the island and rambles traversing the island. The walks cost £6 each and are led by Guernsey’s top guides, each extremely knowledgeable in their area. Suitable for all ages and abilities, the walks range from an hour and half to six hours and are rated depending on the terrain and difficulty.

Finally another UK airport has a link to the US. Aer Lingus will offer a fast service from Leeds- Bradford Airport via Dublin to New York. Operated by franchise partner Stobart Air, will start the flights with a 72-seater turboprop aircraft on 23 October. To remind readers, flying via Dublin (or Shannon for that matter) means you pass through US entrance checks there meaning that when you get to New York, you can avoid those lengthy lines that all visitors to the US learn to hate!


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